UPDATE: George Takei responded to the report in The New York Observer via Twitter with this statement:
“As many of you know, this has been a very difficult period for myself and my husband Brad as we have dealt with the impact of these accusations, but we are happy to see that this nightmare is finally drawing to a close. As I stated before, I do not remember Mr. Brunton or any of the events he described from forty years ago, but I do understand that this was part of a very important national conversation that we as a society must have, painful as it might be.”
“It is in that spirit that I want folks to know, despite what he has put us through, I do not bear Mr. Brunton any ill will, and I wish him peace. Brad and I are especially grateful for the many fans who stood by me throughout this ordeal. Your support kept us going, and we are so immensely thankful for you.”
Months ago, as the #MeToo movement was heating up, many folks were surprised when a former model named Scott Brunton came forward to accuse Star Trek actor George Takei of sexual assault dating back to the early 1980s.
The impact on Takei was immediate as the story went viral. Suddenly, social media’s wise “gay uncle” had been tarred and feathered as a sexual predator.
Takei, wounded, issued a clear denial of the story:
Now, Brunton has spoken to the New York Observer’s Shane Snow in a lengthy interview where the former model now admits he doesn’t remember Takei groping him.
In fact, Brunton walks back several talking points about the night in question and his tone has softened regarding the allegations.
In the article, Brunton admits that, upon arriving in Los Angeles in his early 20s, he “became very wary of people—men—who may have wanted just to get into my pants.”
And yet, it was in 1981 that Brunton, having broken up with him boyfriend at the time, found himself out one evening for dinner and a play with the Star Trek actor which ended in Takei’s condo having cocktails.
Brunton’s says after two drinks he stood up and became dizzy. Takei led him to a bean bag chair where Brunton believes he passed out for a moment. When he came to, he says Takei was attempting to remove his pants.
Although Takei reasoned he was trying to make the younger man more comfortable, he got up and drove home.
Brunton would later tell The Oregonian that, “I know unequivocally he spiked my drink.”
But Snow spoke to two different medical toxicologists who ruled out the idea of a spiked drink.
“The most likely cause is not drug-related,” said Lewis Nelson, the director of medical toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “It sounds like postural hypotension, exacerbated by alcohol.” Postural hypotension is a sudden decrease in blood pressure that can occur when a person stands up quickly—and can make one dizzy enough to pass out even without alcohol. Brunton had made it clear to me, twice, that dizziness hit him only when he stood up.
“The alcohol alone, if drunk quickly, could account for [his browning out], particularly if there was a bit of postural hypotension,” said date-rape expert Michael Scott-Ham of Principal Forensic Toxicology & Drugs, a consulting firm in London, who has testified in criminal cases for 35 years. “To recover so speedily doesn’t sound like the actions of a drug.”
According to experts, victims of the date-rape drug Rohypnol (“roofies”) describe the next day as the worst hangover of their lives, and have little to no memory of what happened while drugged.
Nelson added that there were no drugs available in 1981 that could have done what Brunton claims.
When Snow shared that info with Brunton, the former model admitted he felt better about the incident in that “it makes him a little less sinister.”
Snow also notes that Brunton’s story about being groped or fondled changed over time. In an interview with CNN, Brunton didn’t mention touching at all.
Snow directly asked Brunton about the issue:
I asked him to clarify the issue. “Did he touch your genitals?”
“You know…probably…” Brunton replied after some hesitation. “He was clearly on his way to…to…to going somewhere.”
We shared a pause.
“So…you don’t remember him touching your genitals?”
Brunton confessed that he did not remember any touching.
“There’s nothing to prosecute here,” former Senior Deputy District Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez told Snow. He said that taking off someone’s pants is “making a move,” and making a move isn’t a crime if the instigator backs off when told “no.”
Brunton asserts he felt “betrayed” by his friend Takei for hitting on him and he still wants an apology from Takei.
“I just want him to apologize for taking advantage of our friendship,” Brunton said.
For Takei’s part, a personal friend told Snow, “This has been the worst thing to happen to George since the internment camps.”
In the end, Snow characterizes Brunton as “a sympathetic and well-intentioned man, would go on to walk back key details and let slip that, in his effort to be listened to, he’d fabricated some things.”
And while not dismissing the idea that Takei could have done something inappropriate almost 40 years ago, Snow’s take after surveying what he’d learned was, “We—both public and press—got the George Takei assault story wrong.”